Kingfisher Lady

Kingfisher Lady

Kingfishers are my favorite birds. We have three species in North America. The Belted is the most common, occurring pretty much everywhere, while the other two are restricted to the extreme south, mostly right along the Mexican boarder. I have been privileged to photograph all three, and every encounter is special.

I have seen Belted Kingfisher on every trip to Merritt Island NWR. They are pretty dense there, on the wires along the highways as they pass through the ponds, and more occasionally, out in the mangroves of Black Point Wildlife Drive. Of course, there are very likely more out on Black Point Drive than along the roads, but they are much harder to see when they aren’t perched up on a phone wire.

I don’t like photographing them on wires. There is the danger of stopping and setting up a tripod along a busy highway, of course, but more than that, it is simply not aesthetically pleasing to me to image the bird on an ugly wire.

This bird was ahead of me as I drove along Blackpoint drive. I saw it twice before it found this fishing perch on the far side of a channel 40 feet wide. I stopped and took a few shots with my Sony H50 out the window of the car, debating the wisdom of getting out and setting up my spotting scope and digiscoping rig for some close up shots. With Kingfishers it almost never worth the effort as they invariably fly off before you get the tripod set up.

This bird, however, stayed put, too busy fishing to give me more than the occasional glance. I watched and photographed for more than 40 minutes, taking 100s of exposures at all powers, moving along the road to get better angles, etc. etc…until I finely packed up and moved on. She was still fishing when I left.

Digiscoping is the art of taking an image by placing a digital camera behind the eyepiece of a spotting scope. A small compact digital, or even a DSLR with a 40-50mm lens, will focus through the scope and capture amazingly detailed images of birds and other wildlife. For this shot I used a Zeiss Diascope 85FL (a very high quality spotting scope with special glass for extreme color correction), a fixed power 30x eyepiece, a Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod and light weight video head, a special Zeiss bracket to hold the camera steady behind the eyepiece, and a Sony DSC N1 pocket sized digital camera with touch screen and movable spot focus. (For more on this see: P&S for Wildlife on Point and Shoot Landscape.)

One of the hardest things about any high power, long distance photography is selecting the focus point, especially with auto focus. The movable spot on the Sony N1, along with the touch screen, make it easy to place the spot on the bird’s eye, where you want it.

Because the field of view of the camera is so small and concentrated through the scope, exposure accuracy is excellent with most small Point and Shoot digitals, as it is here.

Zeiss Diascope 85FL, Sony DSC N1 (8 mp), at a camera zoom equiv. of 100mm and a total equivalent focal length of about 3000mm. Camera at F5.4 @ 1/125th @ ISO 200. Programed Auto. Selective spot focus.

Digiscoped images generally only required minimal processing. Sharpening (Portrait preset in Lightroom), and some Clarity and Vibrance for effect.

From the Space Coast Birding Gallery.


1 Response to “1/23/2009”

  1. 01/23/2009 at 6:46 am

    WOW is all I can say! Just lovely detail and color –

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